Tuesday, March 27, 2007


Placard at Southbank Centre; photo by Val PhoenixLondon Lesbian and Gay Film Festival
National Film Theatre

A visit to the new tarted up NFT in the new spruced up (and elided) Southbank proved fruitful as the LLGFF, now in its 21st year, is in full swing.

Among the offerings is Red Doors, a US feature about a dysfunctional (always the most fun) family.

Three sisters and their crisis-ridden father come under the spotlight, though the mother is curiously underwritten. The youngest sister Katie is a divine character, oozing rebel girl sass and attitude. Sadly, this character is not queer but there’s time for her, surely. Why did I not meet girls like this when I was at school? More of her, please. The lesbian sister is a bit of a disappointment, quite drippy actually. And her girlfriend a total Anjelina-alike.

Best exchange:
Father: Katie, you have a penis in your pocket.
Katie (with shrug): It’s not mine.

Also viewed:
Odile is a quirky downbeat French short with minimal dialogue about a lonely boulangerie worker who meets a biker from her past. The set-up was intriguing but sadly it never developed.

I’ve been chastised for not being familiar with the work of Jack Smith and after viewing Flaming Creatures I am mystified by the adulation heaped on him. I found the film deadly dull and pointless in the extreme. A few times something interesting threatened to happen but this quickly dissipated into more pouting queens and women wearing ostentatious hats. Turgid and pretentious is my verdict.

The Canadian short Dames was a treat, a spin on film noir with wise-cracking molls taking centre stage to upstage their male patrons. Great fun.

Boy I Am
Here's a political hot potato as viewed by savvy New Yorkers. The only surprise is it hasn't come out of San Francisco, gender haven to the world.

Anyway, this 73-minute doc looks at the conflict/co-existence of lesbian feminists and FtMs (female to male transsexuals for those not up on the lingo). Nurie, Nicco and Keegan, all 20-something pre-op (at least at the start of the doc) FtMs discuss their lives, their feelings about their bodies and status in the world, counter-balanced by suspicious femme Deb and elder stateswoman and fab old-school butch Carmen Vazquez (looking very good indeed, if I may so, not having seen her in about 12 years).

Which isn't to say the views are polarised. Judith "Jack" Halberstam adds a bit of academic perspective on why butches feel threatened by FtMs seemingly claiming "their space" and how it all boils down to misogyny and historical fear and hatred of women.

All well and good. And I learned a lot, for instance that hormone injections of testosterone are referred to as "T". Not the hot drink but the letter, I assume. Think of the potential misunderstandings. "Later, hon. I'm just going out for some T." "Great. Could you bring me back some Earl Grey." "Uh-h-h....."

The doc spent a lot of time talking about body image, breasts, binding and so forth and even ventured into the operating room as Nicco had his chest surgery to remove his breasts. All three of the main subjects agreed how liberating it felt to have the breasts removed and were happy to pose bare-chested once the surgery was done.

What was a bit surprising was how there was no mention of genital surgery, which one would think would be a major talking point: how did they feel about their genitals? Was surgery preferred? Too expensive? Not an issue, etc.?

Only Nicco made any mention of the subject, saying that he was more bothered about having breasts than having a vagina. To me, it seemed a strange omission. But then, it's refreshing not to have the sexual organs being the focus of one's identity.

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